Disney is quite a lucrative company and it goes without saying that with money comes a sense of power and endless possibilities. After Disney produced the movie “The Mighty Ducks,” the company somehow felt they were capable of starting their own hockey club — a team that would be based in sunny Orange County, California — and that it would prosper.
Nineteen years ago, the first duck call was heard in Anaheim.
On October 8, 1993, the non-fictional Mighty Ducks laced them up and skated in front of a crowd on home ice, a brand-new arena that was named “The Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim.” Nobody in attendance knew what to expect from the product they were about to see play on the ice, but people were curious enough to purchase tickets to the event.
The Mighty Ducks’ inaugural season home opener was against the almighty Detroit Red Wings. A Red Wings roster that was stacked with talent such as Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov, Bob Probert, Chris Osgood, Nic Lidstrom and Paul Coffee–names most people in attendance sadly have never even heard of. The face-off amongst these two teams was like watching an All-Star team play pick up with youth hockey. An embarrassing loss at home, 2-7, had the Ducks with their tails between their legs as they waddled to the locker room.
Five days later, as they played their third game of the season, the Mighty Ducks were desperately able to hold on to the lead as they registered their first franchise win, 4-3, against the Edmonton Oilers. The season would end up being a long one in Anaheim. The team finished the season with 71 points and a 33-46-5 record.
The management in Anaheim had a lot to learn if they wanted to put together a winning product that would generate fans and not be the brunt of all jokes in the league.
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